By agencies of public opinion, we mean all those organizations, institutions and groups which significantly contribute to the formulation and expression of public opinion. In every society a large number of people and agencies play an important role in the formulation and expression of public opinion.
According to Bryce, three types of people contribute significantly to the formulation, expression and promotion of public opinion.
(1) The people who build public opinion. This category includes the legislators and journalists who by their views and use of mass media act as agencies of Public Opinion.
(2) The people who are active actors is social and political life. These are well informed and active people who direct public opinion to a particular direction.
(3) The third category includes the people who arouse public opinion. These are the people who take part in public meetings, agitations, movements and demonstrations.
Among these three categories the people belonging to the second category, believes Bryce, play a relatively more important role as an agency of public opinion.
The following are the major agencies of Public Opinion:
Newspapers, periodicals, magazines—in-fact the Press i.e. the print media as a whole acts as an important major agency of public opinion. The press discusses and analyses every important issue of public concern and the editorials, write-ups and news-analysis always play a big role in the formulation and expression of public opinion.
Legislature is formed by the elected representatives of the people. It is an assembly of political leaders. It acts both as a mirror of public opinion as well as the agency for the formulation and expression of public opinion. Legislative debates, publication of records of the debates of the legislature, and the views expressed by the legislators both inside and out-side the legislature, play an important role in the making and mirroring of public opinion.
3. Public Meetings and Rebates:
In every democratic state people have the right and freedom on to form associations, to hold meetings, processions and demonstrations and to discuss all issues of public importance and concern. Public meetings as such are agencies for the formulation of Public Opinion.
4. Political Parties:
Political parties are the agents of political education. These provide all information to the people regarding the activities, successes, failures, omissions and errors of the government. Each political party tries to create a public opinion in its favour. It organises meetings, agitations, demonstrations, processions and movements for highlighting the issues of public importance.
All these activities play a role in the formulation of public opinion. Political Parties act as important, useful and active agencies for interest articulation interest aggregation and political communication. These play a major role in the formulation of public opinion.
5. Radio, T.V. and Internet:
In this age of information revolution Radio, T.V. and Internet contribute significantly to the formulation of public opinion. Radio and T.V. talks and debates act as motivating factors for the formulation of public opinion. These act as agencies of political education. Use of these during elections acts a means for making and changing public opinion.
Cinema is also a powerful agency which plays a role in the formulation of public opinion. At the time of screening of films in cinema halls, news reels covering the news of the different parts of the world are also shown. It affects public opinion beside; some films are prepared keeping in view some main objectives, which have their impact on the people. As a result of it all, cinema helps in the formulation and expression of public opinion.
7. Educational Institutions:
In the educational institutions classroom- lectures, speeches, meetings and seminars of different kinds are arranged. The eminent leaders, scholars, and writers participate in these meetings and assemblies and through the mutual exchange of views influence the views of the students and teachers.
Also the views expressed by the teachers in their classes influence the students. At times the views thus expressed become the part and parcel of the thinking of the students. Also the syllabi meant for teaching in the educational institutions are prepared with some specific objectives. All this helps in the formulation of public opinion.
8. Religious Institutions:
Man’s political views are also influenced by his religious views. In India, especially many political parties are based on religion. Religious congregations in India always have a political face. Under the cloak of religion, political views are expressed and spread. The people ‘faithfully’ follow these views and in this way public opinion gets formulated.
In democracy elections are regularly held. These are means of political education. The political parties prepare their election manifestoes. Through public meetings, gatherings and processions, pamphlets, advertisements dramas and plays. Political Parties spread and propagate their programmes among the people. During an election, the political parties do an intensive campaign, and even the most neutral person in politics does not remain unaffected or uninfluenced.
10. Social Institutions/Organisations:
In every society there are several institutions which though of non-political nature, contribute significantly towards the expression and formulation of public opinion. For example, All India Women Conference, Associations of Intellectuals, Farmers Associations, Social Welfare Associations and other such organisations bring to the attention of the government and society the different issues and demands and help in the formulation of public opinion. All these agencies play a leading part in the formulation and mirroring of Public Opinion.